Alex’s Playhouse: Flooring, Framing, and Sheathing

With the support posts up and the flooring joists installed, progress on the playhouse can continue. Next steps were to add flooring, framing, and sheathing. The flooring was easy since the the dimensions of the playhouse are 8′ x 12′ (3 sheets of plywood laid next to each other).

The framing was a more complex situation with the introduction of doors and windows. These had to be planned out and properly framed. We opted to build the east and west wall frames on the floor of the playhouse, sheath, and raise into place. This option was much safer than framing the wall in place and then trying to sheath it. Some safety concerns included the height we would be working off the ground and the hillside resulting in less than stable ladder placements. The south wall was the easiest to deal with since the deck could be used as a work space. The north wall was also easy to frame in place because it is only a few feet off the ground.

Critical Tools: Bubble level, nail gun, circular saw, square, measuring tape, impact driver

Process (Simplified):

  1. Place floor decking on joists and screw into place
  2. Build walls – not in place but using the floor decking as a work space (framing and sheathing)
  3. Raise walls and secure

Process (Gallery)

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Don’t put up pre-sheathed walls with a stiff wind blowing by yourself. Have a friend or two there to help.

Sizing the playhouse to be 3 sheets of plywood made it simple to install the floor decking – no need to cut plywood down

Alex’s Playhouse: Support Posts and Deck

Alex’s birthday has come and gone and unfortunately the playhouse wasn’t finished in time. We experienced a delay with having to move the playhouse location in order to maintain good relations with our neighbors. Lesson learned, go into more detail on what one is seeking approval. All is good, friendly relations were preserved.  In part thanks to the use of the demo hammer –  quick work was made of hole digging and original footer destruction. Everything else transferred over (brackets were salvaged!), the posts just had to be cut down to accommodate the different elevation.

Critical Tools: Levels – old school and laser, circular saw, reciprocating saw, measuring tape, drill with spade bit, guide string

Process (Simplified):

  1. Create channel is post, drill through bolt holes, mount post.
  2. Determine desired floor height and use laser level to determine cut down post height of a single post (cut down post height =  top of post – floor decking – floor joist)
  3. Cut posts down to proper height and notch out shoulder for support beams.
  4. Install beams (how to build a beam), floor joists, floor decking

Process (Gallery)

Skill Level: Advanced/Expert.

Tip(s): Use the laser level to mark the posts at dusk. Makes it much easier to see the line.

Know your tools. We mounted the laser level to make the top of all posts (floor height). While we struggled with the optical illusion introduced by the land’s slope, something still didn’t look right. We fastened a 2 x 4 along the marks across two posts and checked with an old fashioned level. Definitely out of level. Looking closer at the laser level it was determined the wrong setting was being used. Whoops. Second tip is when in doubt using a different method to confirm what you are seeing.

Alex’s Playhouse: Footers

With Alex’s birthday fast approaching, we thought it was time he had a playhouse to enjoy. Our initial plan was to purchase a playhouse from Costco or Amazon (something like this, not this – read the reviews), but discovered the smallest ones needed a flat area approximately 154 square feet for the structure and 598 square feet for a safe play area. Our sloped mountain lot does not have this type of level area, at least not without a major earth moving project.

Plan B? Build a playhouse from scratch! Since we can’t find something that suits our lot, we are going to build. And our next house project is with the various engineers, we need something to keep us busy.

As always with our construction posts, when associated with actual building, ‘we’ is Dave.

Preparation: Select build site, with consideration for set backs. Know your local regulations on how large of a structure you can build without a permit.

Critical Tools: Makita 20 lb Demolition Hammer – This tool was rented from Home Depot and was selected because it also has drill functionality.  Just in case rocks are encountered in the Rocky Mountains.

Trigonometry and guide string – To ensure square corners just remember a^2 + b^2 = c^2. Yes, that seemingly useless class will come back to haunt you.

Process (Simplified):

  1. Dig first hole and set concrete form
  2. Mix and pour concrete, set support brackets
  3. Confirm location of next hole
  4. Repeat

Skill Level: Advanced/Expert. There is trigonometry involved.

Tip(s): Just rent the demolition hammer. A post hole digger and breaker bar will only get you so far.

Gallery

Golden Gate Canyon State Park – Coyote Trail

Destination: Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Date: 11/24/2017

Time of Day: 11:00 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.0 miles (one way)/+971/Most difficult

Time Elapsed: 120 minutes.

Comments: This is our first visit to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We came in off of Gap Road, and it would have been better to come in at the visitors center for our inaugural visit. We found our way to Mountain Base road and stopped in Bootleg bottom (named for the  bootleggers that used to operate out of the area). We decided to try the Coyote Trail since we conveniently parked at the trail head.

The trail starts out deceptively simple. A smooth trail along side some mountain meadows lined with Aspen. Soon the trail heads into the woods and the difficulty increases to moderate – it is rockier but nothing to strenuous. Then the difficulty increases again, with a scramble up some rocks where care must be taken. Unfortunately, weather started to blow in and we were not prepared for hiking in freezing rain/snow. Or going back down a wet rock scramble while packing Alex. We opted to turn back for safety reasons and did not make it to Frazer meadow.

Would we return? Definitely. We really enjoyed our abbreviated hike. We look forward to coming back with an earlier start.

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September 29, 2017: Apple Pie Update

Fermentation Record: 20170929FL

Comments:

Fermentation log details when we added apples, cinnamon, and dry hopped our oatmeal apple pie cream ale (brew day post).

What is with the funky fermentation profile? To conserve wort, a refractometer was used for the first few days of fermentation. We forgot brewing 101 where the refractometer is only good for wort. The alcohol that is present once fermentation starts throws off the values. Day 5 we used different equipment.

The cinnamon aroma is strong, but it does not come through in the flavor profile. The Pink Lady apples are delicious for eating, but when we brew this again – Honey Crisp is the way to go. This was our original plan, but the apples were neglected on the stove and the sugars went past caramelization to ash. Of the apple varietals the local grocery had, Pink Lady was the choice we made.

The flavor of the beer is close to what we wanted, but not quite there. Because we were low on mash temperature, it is a drier beer than desired. A higher mash temperature would have resulted in a residual sweetness that would better evoke apple pie.

Sent this to cold crash – looking forward to transferring it to a keg, carbonating, and drinking in a couple weeks.

September 16, 2017: Apple Pie Brew Day

Ah, winter is coming. So it is time to brew before the weather is too cold and the wind is too sharp to monitor our brew kettle outside. The amber we brewed back in July kicked a couple of weeks ago and Jess had to bring a 1/6 home from work to fill the void (The Post Brewing Company, Big Rosie Porter).

This time around we are trying an oatmeal cream-style ale. Adjuncts will be apples and cinnamon added at secondary to provide some traditional apple pie flavors. A slightly higher mash temperature, closer to what one would expect of porters, will provide a sweetness on the palate due to unfermentable sugars.

Grain bill:

  • 7 lb 2-Row (domestic)
  • 1.5 lb flaked oats
  • 1 lb Maris Otter
  • 1 lb Caramunich I

Hops (Pellet) and other boil/whirlpool additions:

  • 0.5 oz  Magnum 10.8% alpha acids (60 minutes)
  • 0.5 oz Centennial 6.3% alpha acids (Whrilpool)
  • 1 oz Calypso 8.6% alpha acids (Whirlpool)

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 2565 Kolsch; Lot #: 0637206; mfg: 07/25/17

Brew Record: 20170916BR

Comments:

Check out the brew record linked above for the nitty gritty brew day details.

The mash tun has found a new home – a shop cart. The mash tun is very heavy and we struggled to lift it to the top of the brew tree in July. Better to leave it lower and use the pumps.

We lost more heat than we expected during mash-in. The mash temperature, which was 4 degrees lower than the desired target, will result in more fermentable sugars and a drier beer. Not the end of the world, but there will be some sweetness lost that would help emulate apple pie flavors.

Whirfloc was not added. It listed on the brew sheet, but was completely overlooked.

We also lost more volume to the bottom of the brew kettle – approximately 1 gallon. This is something to keep in mind for our future recipe calculations.

Malt can be used as prop on model train tables.

Efficiency:

72.9%, lower than the 75% for the Amber. These are significant drop-offs from what we experienced in Loveland. So what gives? An educated guess points to the water profile, with solid money betting on low calcium (check out this post on why water matters). A water testing kit may be on the to purchase list.

What the future (does not) holds

  • The brew shed has been postponed. We brewed in the mouth of the garage and kept the door open. The wind issues we experienced when we brewed the amber were eliminated and we were not overcome with propane exhaust fumes (woohoo!). So for the time being, money shall be saved and the brew shed will not be built.
  • Water analysis. Because if there is a way to be nerdier about home brewing, this is it.
  • Purchase more valves. Still needs to be done. The requisition department is slow.

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Deck: (Mostly) Finished Product

Ah, the deck. The original two week estimate to completion quickly morphed into five. Why the 250% increase? The major reason was that sections of the deck were poorly done and required more repair work than originally estimated (see this post (demo 2/3) and this post (assembly 2/3) and this post (demo 3/3)). Part was also finding the proper demolition technique (see this post). And wrangling Alex (summer camps, meeting cereal demands) takes time away from deck repair.

What is left to be done:

Screening around the hot tub area.

Benches/table in the hot tub area.

Post caps. Sooner or later we will make a decision on what to buy.

What we like most: The hot tub. It is amazing how time flies while one is soaking.

The gates. We hired a local metal artist to create two custom gates for us. Marion did a wonderful job and we look forward to commissioning more functional art from him in the future.

Having a stable and safe deck. No more sloping due to improperly installed cantilevers. No more over cut stair horses. Just a nice solid feeling deck.

The railing. We now have vertical railing balusters that Alex can’t climb, although, not for a lack of trying. Not only have we removed Alex’s ladder, but we have helped modernize the look of the deck. Gone are the heavy rustic log balusters, in are the sleek black powder-coated iron balusters. Add in the cocktail rail, and life is good. The aesthetic transformation is impressive.

The color of the deck. After some debate, the Clamshell (medium grey) camp won out arguing that contrast was better than trying to match the color of the house and failing. Combined with the black railing, it looks sharp.

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